|Norwegian Fairy tales
NOT A PIN TO CHOOSE BETWEEN THEM
on a time there was a man, and he had a wife. Now this couple wanted to
sow their fields, but they had neither seed-corn nor money to buy it
with. But they had a cow, and the man was to drive it into town and
sell it, to get money to buy corn for seed. But when it came to the
pinch, the wife dared not let her husband start for fear he should
spend the money in drink, so she set off herself with the cow, and took
besides a hen with her.
Close by the town she met a butcher, who asked:
'Will you sell that cow, Goody?'
'Yes, that I will', she answered.
'Well, what do you want for her?'
'Oh! I must have five shillings for the cow, but you shall have the hen for ten pounds.'
good!' said the man; 'I don't want the hen, and you'll soon get it off
your hands in the town, but I'll give you five shillings for the cow.'
she sold her cow for five shillings, but there was no one in the town
who would give ten pounds for a lean tough old hen, so she went back to
the butcher, and said:
'Do all I can, I can't get rid of this hen, master! you must take it too, as you took the cow.'
said the butcher, 'come along and we'll see about it.' Then he treated
her both with meat and drink, and gave her so much brandy that she lost
her head, and didn't know what she was about, and fell fast asleep. But
while she slept, the butcher took and dipped her into a tar-barrel, and
then laid her down on a heap of feathers; and when she woke up, she was
feathered all over, and began to wonder what had befallen her.
it me, or is it not me? No, it can never be me; it must be some great
strange bird. But what shall I do to find out whether it is me or not.
Oh! I know how I shall be able to tell whether it is me; if the calves
come and lick me, and our dog Tray doesn't bark at me when I get home,
then it must be me, and no one else.'
Now, Tray, her dog, had
scarce set his eyes on the strange monster which came through the gate,
than he set up such a barking, one would have thought all the rogues
and robbers in the world were in the yard.
'Ah, deary me', said
she, 'I thought so; it can't be me surely.' So she went to the
straw-yard, and the calves wouldn't lick her, when they snuffed in the
strong smell of tar. 'No, no!' she said, 'it can't be me; it must be
some strange outlandish bird.'
So she crept up on the roof of the safe and began to flap her arms, as if they had been wings, and was just going to fly off.
When her husband saw all this, out he came with his rifle, and began to take aim at her.
'Oh!' cried his wife, 'don't shoot, don't shoot! it is only me.'
it's you', said her husband, 'don't stand up there like a goat on a
house-top, but come down and let me hear what you have to say for
So she crawled down again, but she hadn't a shilling
to shew, for the crown she had got from the butcher she had thrown away
in her drunkenness. When her husband heard her story, he said, 'You're
only twice as silly as you were before', and he got so angry that he
made up his mind to go away from her altogether, and never to come back
till he had found three other Goodies as silly as his own.
toddled off, and when he had walked a little way he saw a Goody, who
was running in and out of a newly-built wooden cottage with an empty
sieve, and every time she ran in, she threw her apron over the sieve
just as if she had something in it, and when she got in she turned it
upside down on the floor.
'Why, Goody!' he asked, 'what are you doing?'
she answered, 'I'm only carrying in a little sun; but I don't know how
it is, when I'm outside, I have the sun in my sieve, but when I get
inside, somehow or other I've thrown it away. But in my old cottage I
had plenty of sun, though I never carried in the least bit. I only wish
I knew some one who would bring the sun inside; I'd give him three
hundred dollars and welcome.'
'Have you got an axe?' asked the man. 'If you have, I'll soon bring the sun inside.'
he got an axe and cut windows in the cottage, for the carpenters had
forgotten them; then the sun shone in, and he got his three hundred
'That was one of them', said the man to himself, as he went on his way.
a while he passed by a house, out of which came an awful screaming and
bellowing; so he turned in and saw a Goody, who was hard at work
banging her husband across the head with a beetle, and over his head
she had drawn a shirt without any slit for the neck.
'Why, Goody!' he asked, 'will you beat your husband to death?'
'No', she said, 'I only must have a hole in this shirt for his neck to come through.'
All the while the husband kept on screaming and calling out:
help and comfort all who try on new shirts. If anyone would teach my
Goody another way of making a slit for the neck in my new shirts, I'd
give him three hundred dollars down and welcome.'
'I'll do it in the twinkling of an eye', said the man, 'if you'll only give me a pair of scissors.'
So he got a pair of scissors, and snipped a hole in the neck, and went off with his three hundred dollars.
'That was another of them', he said to himself, as he walked along.
Last of all, he came to a farm, where he made up his mind to rest a bit. So when he went in, the mistress asked him:
'Whence do you come, master?'
'Oh!' said he, 'I come from Paradise Place', for that was the name of his farm.
Paradise Place!' she cried, 'you don't say so! Why, then, you must know
my second husband Peter, who is dead and gone, God rest his soul.'
you must know this Goody had been married three times, and as her first
and last husbands had been bad, she had made up her mind that the
second only was gone to heaven.
'Oh yes', said the man; 'I know him very well.'
'Well', asked the Goody, 'how do things go with him, poor dear soul?'
middling', was the answer; 'he goes about begging from house to house,
and has neither food nor a rag to his back. As for money, he hasn't a
sixpence to bless himself with.'
'Mercy on me', cried out the
Goody; 'he never ought to go about such a figure when he left so much
behind him. Why, there's a whole cupboard full of old clothes up-stairs
which belonged to him, besides a great chest full of money yonder. Now,
if you will take them with you, you shall have a horse and cart to
carry them. As for the horse, he can keep it, and sit on the cart, and
drive about from house to house, and then he needn't trudge on foot.'
the man got a whole cart-load of clothes, and a chest full of shining
dollars, and as much meat and drink as he would; and when he had got
all he wanted, he jumped into the cart and drove off.
the third', he said to himself, as he went along. Now this Goody's
third husband was a little way off in a field ploughing, and when he
saw a strange man driving off from the farm with his horse and cart, he
went home and asked his wife who that was that had just started with
the black horse.
'Oh, do you mean him?' said the Goody; 'why,
that was a man from Paradise, who said that Peter, my dear second
husband, who is dead and gone, is in a sad plight, and that he goes
from house to house begging, and has neither clothes nor money; so I
just sent him all those old clothes he left behind him, and the old
money box with the dollars in it.' The man saw how the land lay in a
trice, so he saddled his horse and rode off from the farm at full
gallop. It wasn't long before he was close behind the man who sat and
drove the cart; but when the latter saw this he drove the cart into a
thicket by the side of the road, pulled out a handful of hair from the
horse's tail, jumped up on a little rise in the wood, where he tied the
hair fast to a birch, and then lay down under it, and began to peer and
stare up at the sky.
'Well, well, if I ever!' he said, as Peter the third came riding up.
'No! I never saw the like of this in all my born days!'
Then Peter stood and looked at him for some time, wondering what had come over him; but at last he asked:
'What do you lie there staring at?'
kept on the man, 'I never did see anything like it!—here is a man going
straight up to heaven on a black horse, and here you see his horse's
tail still hanging in this birch; and yonder up in the sky you see the
Peter looked first at the man, and then at the sky, and said:
'I see nothing but the horse hair in the birch; that's all I see!'
course you can't where you stand', said the man; 'but just come and lie
down here, and stare straight up, and mind you don't take your eyes off
the sky; and then you shall see what you shall see.'
Peter the third lay and stared up at the sky till his eyes filled with
tears, the man from Paradise Place took his horse and jumped on its
back and rode off both with it and the cart and horse.
hoofs thundered along the road, Peter the third jumped up; but he was
so taken aback when he found the man had gone off with his horse that
he hadn't the sense to run after him till it was too late.
He was rather down in the mouth when he got home to his Goody; but when she asked him what he had done with the horse, he said,
gave it to the man too for Peter the second, for I thought it wasn't
right he should sit in a cart, and scramble about from house to house;
so now he can sell the cart and buy himself a coach to drive about in.'
'Thank you heartily!' said his wife; 'I never thought you could be so kind.'
when the man reached home, who had got the six hundred dollars and the
cart-load of clothes and money, he saw that all his fields were
ploughed and sown, and the first thing he asked his wife was, where she
had got the seed-corn from.
'Oh', she said, 'I have always heard
that what a man sows he shall reap, so I sowed the salt which our
friends the north-country men laid up here with us, and if we only have
rain I fancy it will come up nicely.'
'Silly you are', said her
husband, 'and silly you will be so long as you live; but that is all
one now, for the rest are not a bit wiser than you. There is not a pin
to choose between you.'